Citizenship a Tool of Social Inclusion and Exclusion in Post-Apartheid South Africa

By Nkambule, Sipho Jonathan | Journal of Community Positive Practices, April 1, 2012 | Go to article overview

Citizenship a Tool of Social Inclusion and Exclusion in Post-Apartheid South Africa


Nkambule, Sipho Jonathan, Journal of Community Positive Practices


Abstract: During apartheid South Africa White minority had full citizenship and majority of the population had less or no entitlement to citizenship. When the democratic government resumed office, it attempted to create a new citizenry whereby everyone would have equal access to socio-economic and political citizen rights. The rise to power of the African National Congress brought hope to the historically exploited, excluded and oppressed populations. Furthermore, it gave a sense of entitlement among the historically marginalized mainly black population to the fruits of citizenship in the new democracy. The paper aims to evaluate whether universal citizenship have been achieved in the post-apartheid South Africa. The paper argues that although the South African constitution is based on common citizenship but there are many challenges in realization of this. Part of the reason for this was the adoption of a neoliberal macroeconomic policy which has hindered public institutions to effectively address the racial and social disparities of the past. In addition, social citizenship in the post-apartheid South Africa is used as a tool for exclusion and inclusion.

Keywords: citizenship, social, inequality, exclusion, inclusion, gender

1. Introduction

Citizenship is at the centre of contemporary South African politics. It holds the promise of 'better life for all' South African. For Enslin (2003) the rise to power of the African National Congress (ANC) brought hope to the historically exploited, excluded and oppressed populations. Furthermore it gave a sense of entitlement among the historically marginalised mainly black population to the fruits of citizenship in the new democracy. However South Africa is still faced with high levels of unemployment, poverty and inequality. During apartheid South Africa White minority had full citizenship and majority of the population had less or no entitlement to citizenship (Hammett, 2008, p. 3). When the democratic government resumed office, it attempted to create a new citizenry whereby everyone would have equal access to socio-economic and political citizen rights. Although the South African constitution is based on common citizenship but there are many challenges in realisation of this (Vally, 2007, p. 39). Part of the reason for this was the adoption of a neoliberal macroeconomic policy which has hindered public institutions to effectively address the racial and social disparities of the past (Barchiesi, 2008, p. 56). It can be said therefore that South Africa's conception of citizenship is found in the fight against apartheid and the new constitution. The fight against apartheid resulted participatory idea of democratic citizenship. The idea of full citizenship was reflected most significantly in the 1980's in the mass mobilization against apartheid regime (Sokupa, 2010, p. 11). Hassim (1999, p. 6) notes that 'citizenship in South Africa has always been a politically charged notion'. I argue that South African social democratic welfare is a result of successful political struggle to attain full citizenship under the context of democracy. Furthermore democratic South African citizenship act as a destigmatisation from apartheid as the social democratic welfare South Africa provided dignity and security for all. However, it has also become a tool for inclusion and exclusion. Before and during apartheid, those seeking welfare were intentionally stigmatised and viewed as lazy and undesirables.

The paper has been divided into three main section and two sub-sections. The first section gives brief introduction of the issue, second section discusses citizenship and inequality, and this section has two sub-sections namely gender and citizenship, and urban-rural citizenship. The final section of the chapter discusses the conclusion.

2. Citizenship and inequality

Citizenship is a concept that is almost universally used, however its definition is highly contested. From social policy view social citizenship is concerned with government social policies and the rights of citizens to promote a socially desirable, minimal livelihood without being dependent on the market (Marshall, 1950, p. …

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